How to get an EORI number

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    Rachel Wait

    Page written by Rachel Wait. Last reviewed on April 19, 2024. Next review due April 6, 2025.

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      If you’re thinking about growing your business internationally, it’s likely you’ll need an EORI number. Here’s everything you need to know about the application process.

      What is an EORI number?

      An EORI number is a unique ID code used to track and register customs information in the European Union (EU). EORI number stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification number and it’s used by customs and other authorities to monitor and track shipments.

      The EORI system was brought in on 1 July 2009 and replaced the Traders Union Reference Number System. 

      Who needs an EORI number?

      You will need an EORI number if your company imports goods into or exports goods from the EU. You might need an EORI number if you move goods:

      • Between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Isle of Man and any other country (including the EU)
      • Between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
      • Between Great Britain and the Channel Islands
      • Between Northern Ireland and countries outside the EU

      You will also need an EORI number to register for an export licence on SPIRE.

      However, you won’t need an EORI number if you’re moving goods that are not controlled goods and they are for personal use only.

      Which type of EORI number you need and where you get it from will depend on where you’re moving goods to and from. You may need more than one. If you don’t have the right EORI number, you may have delays at customs and increased costs. 

      If you’re moving goods to and from Great Britain, you must get an EORI number that starts with GB. You may also need an EORI number starting with XI if you move goods to and from Northern Ireland. You won’t need an EORI number starting with XI if you already have an EORI number from an EU country.

      When is an EORI number required?

      You’ll need your EORI number if you:

      • Appoint someone to deal with customs for you and you’re established in the country you’re importing to or exporting from
      • Make customs declarations
      • Use customs systems such as the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system and the Import Control System Northern Ireland (ICS NI)
      • Apply for a customs decision.

      How do I get an EORI number?

      If your business is based in the UK, you’ll need to complete the correct paperwork to get an EORI number. You’ll need to fill in an online form that’s submitted to HMRC using your Government Gateway account (the same one used to submit your tax returns). 

      What is the format of an EORI number?

      An EORI number is made up of a country code which shows where the business is registered, plus a unique code or number. 

      For example, if you’re a business in Great Britain and you’re VAT registered, your EORI number will be in the format GB + VRN (VAT registration number) + 000.

      If you’re not VAT registered, it will be GB + unique number issued by HMRC.

      EORI numbers for use with Northern Irish shipments start with XI. Otherwise they follow the same format.

      How to apply for an EORI number

      You can apply for an EORI number on the gov.uk website if you’re based in the UK. You will need to sign in using your Government Gateway account. If you don’t have a Government Gateway account you can create one when you apply. 

      Apply for an EORI number that starts with GB

      When applying for an EORI number, you will need your:

      • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) 
      • Business start date and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code – these are in the Companies House register
      • Government Gateway user ID and password
      • VAT number and effective date of registration – if you’re VAT registered
      • National Insurance number – if you’re an individual or sole trader

      Apply for an EORI number that starts with XI

      You will need to have applied for a GB EORI number before you can get an XI EORI number. Once you have this you can fill in an online form, making sure you tick the box to say you will be trading with Northern Ireland or you are based in Northern Ireland, and tick the box saying your enquiry is a ‘Query regarding a current EORI number application’. 

      You will need:

      • Your XI VAT number if you have one
      • Any VAT numbers issued by an EU country
      • Two documents showing proof of your permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland, such as a bank statement or utility bill

      You will not be asked for proof of a permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland if:

      • The establishment address on your GB EORI application is in Northern Ireland
      • Your business is not based in Northern Ireland but you need an EORI number to make certain declarations or act as a carrier, for example. 

      How do I fill in the application form?

      You can fill in a GB or XI EORI application form via the gov.uk website. Simply provide a few personal and company details and you’ll be able to submit the form straightaway.

      • If you are VAT-registered, you can use this form.
      • If you are not VAT-registered and want to export goods, you can use this form.
      • If you are not VAT-registered and want to import goods, you can use this form.  

      How long does the EORI application take?

      The application form should only take around five minutes to fill out and you’ll get your GB EORI number immediately unless HMRC needs to make any checks on your application. If they do, it can take up to five working days.

      Once your application is complete, there is no need to apply again for future transactions. Your EORI number is valid no matter how many transactions you carry out. However, you will need to apply for the relevant EORI number from any other EU country you choose to set up business in. 

      What information do I need to apply for an EORI number?

      When applying for an EORI number, you will need to have a number of details to hand. For a start, you’ll need to give details of the shipment you’re planning to clear in or out of the EU. You won’t be able to complete the form ahead of time and should you ignore this information, your application will be turned down. 

      You’ll also need your business’ start date, the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and your Government Gateway user ID and password. Individuals and sole traders will also need their National Insurance number. 

      If your business is not based in the UK, you will not need a UTR, a SIC code or a National Insurance number. 

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      Written by

      Rachel Wait

      Rachel has been writing about finance and consumer affairs for over a decade, helping people to get to grips with their finances and cut through the jargon. She's written for a range of websites and national newspapers including MoneySuperMarket, Money to the Masses, Forbes UK, and Mail on Sunday. Rachel has covered almost every financial topic, from car insurance and credit cards, to business bank accounts and mortgages.

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